Hawks still perfect after day three of OUA curling championships
GUELPH, Ont. — The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks are on a mission.
After day three of the Ontario University Athletics curling championships on Saturday, both Laurier teams remain undefeated and picked up two wins each. The men’s rink picked up two crucial wins, first in the morning against the Trent Excalibur 10-1 and then in the afternoon against the Brock Badgers 8-4 — the only team to beat them at the Brock Invitational held last January. This moved the team’s record to 6-0, with one more draw to go.
“We played at Brock and the guys were focused but I thought we could still step it up a notch,” head coach Glenn Paulley said. “They’re making everything. It’s really astounding how well they are playing.”
Paulley said one of the largest factors to the Hawks’ success this year at OUA’s is because of brushing — especially from lead Fraser Reid and second Spencer Nuttall. He said the brushing from the front end pair was great last year, but it’s up another notch this year, from playing on the tour with skip Mark Kean.
“I don’t believe there are two better brushers in university curling in Canada right now,” Paulley said. “They’re making it easy for everybody.”
And it shows. The confidence from the sweeping alone has given fifth-year skip Aaron Squires and the rink an opportunity to take any kind of shot they want to take. Squires said everybody has the opportunity to do what they can with the brooms in order to make the rock curl, but right now the Hawks are making the right line calls whereas some teams are missing it by a hair. Sweeping is making a good shot that much better.
“If anything, we gained more momentum,” Squires said. “We feel really good out there and we’re not afraid to make any shot right now.”
So far, the team scored a total of 51 points against all opponents and has 11 points scored against them. But before the game against Brock, the Laurier squad only had seven points against. The points against statistic is really important to Paulley.
“You can take a look at the score and say, well you guys are scoring a lot of points, but in my opinion that’s not the thing to look at,” Paulley said. “What matters to me is how our points against is as low as it is. We’ve given up one deuce in the tournament.”
There is no shortage of confidence on the women’s side either — the team has a perfect 5-0 record going into the last day of round robin. Laurier beat the UOIT Ridgebacks 6-3 and the McMaster Marauders 10-1 and gained sole possession of first place in their pool after the Western Mustangs took their first loss of the tournament against the Toronto Varsity Blues.
“We’re feeling really [good],” varsity coach Jason Rice said. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence and we’ve got a lot of momentum heading closer to the end of the pool and the end of the playoffs we’re looking for.”
During the Hawks’ women’s first draw against the UOIT Ridgebacks, third-year skip Chelsea Brandwood used a majority of challenging shots to sink the opponent, including a tap and roll in the third end to sit three and the tap for two in the fifth end. Brandwood said in order to prepare herself to make these kinds of shots, she just thinks it’s practice.
“When you do it in practice and you make those hit and rolls, you just think it’s another practice shot,” she said. “Take a deep breath and just throw it, hopefully you make it.”
And both teams are facing off for first place in their final draw, with the Laurier’s women’s team playing the Western Mustangs and the men’s rink playing the Waterloo Warriors. A win for either team guarantees first place and an automatic bye into the semifinals on Monday. Paulley said gaining that quarter-final bye is important not just so they avoid the sudden-death quarter-final draw, but so the Hawks get rest and go straight into the semifinals.
“Certainly we’d like to finish undefeated, but even if not, finish at the top of the table,” he said.
You can follow Laurier’s progress along on the Ontario Curling Association’s website here.